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Book review: Johnny Worthen continues to mix folklore, science fiction in 'Celeste'

"CELESTE: The Unseen, Book 2," by Johnny Worthen, Jolly Fish Press, $14.99, 371 pages (f) (ages 14 and up)

Utah author Johnny Worthen’s book “Celeste” is the second in his young adult paranormal series The Unseen, mixing science fiction and folklore into an entertaining story.

Eleanor isn't human. Her earliest memories are of her Navajo-looking family, who had a secret — they were shape-shifters, or skinwalkers.

In the first book, “Eleanor,” the main character decided to be human, so she became a copy of a young friend, Celeste. This second book, “Celeste,” deals with Eleanor coming of age. She visits Celeste again to get more DNA. Celeste is now 17, which means physical changes for Eleanor and her friend/boyfriend, David Venn, whose mother, Karen, took guardianship of Eleanor last year.

Back in Jamesford, Wyoming, Eleanor has trouble fitting in, and her relationship with David falters when he sees one of her transformations. She begins to feel like running away but decides to stick it out and fight.

A new church in Jamesford is making life difficult for Eleanor and the town with its ultraconservative mindset toward the area's paranormal happenings. But through all of this turmoil, she slowly befriends many in town.

Feeling obligated to those who have helped her, Eleanor tries to find who has killed two people.

“Celeste” is told from Eleanor’s perspective. The story is very good and draws readers into it. Worthen does an excellent job describing her feelings of loneliness. The Navajo mythology and language make it a richer story. A third book, “David,” is in the works.

There is light swearing in a couple of scenes, and the romance never goes beyond kissing. There are multiple deaths and a fair amount of violence in the story, but it is only generally described.

Worthen is an award-winning author who is a graduate of the University of Utah and lives in the Salt Lake area with his wife, two sons and a cat.

If you go ...

What: Johnny Worthen book signing

When: Saturday, July 18, 4-6 p.m.

Where: The King's English Bookshop, 1511 S. 1500 East, Salt Lake City


Note: Places in the signing line are reserved for those who purchase a copy of the featured book from The King's English.

Also ...

When: Tuesday, July 21, 5 p.m.

Where: Barnes and Noble, Layton Market Center, 1780 N. Woodland Park Drive, Layton


Kent Larson is from Phoenix and has been teaching for 26 years. His website is at